What if ... there was a digital assistant that only had the user’s best interests at heart?

Falling for Mishee™

Mishee: is she a neutral intermediary, a digital agent or perhaps even a guardian angel?

I put these questions to Mishee’s creator, Imani Armah, the Ghanaian technologist and entrepreneur. We met for an early coffee on the roof terrace of Vida e Caffè in Labone.

“I think of Mishee as a best friend, or perhaps your wiser twin,” Imani says with a slightly wistful smile, “Mishee knows your weaknesses, but she doesn’t play on them. She asks you simply how much you want to share...”

“Or how little”, I interject.

Mishee forces the platforms to negotiate for our personal data, and for many users, that means blocking its transfer.

“There is no one-size-fits-all”, Imani says patiently. “Some people like to share more. And we change as we move through life. Mishee makes the platforms listen".

“She empowers users”, I say.

“Traditional digital assistants work to keep you in their ecosystem and buy things. Many of my friends resented their devices and distrusted the platforms”, Imani says, “We had lost the feeling of happiness you get when technology just works. Mishee is a voice-operated interface for everything, from your TV to social media. She talks to you like she’s human, and, most importantly, she’s on your side. Mishee gives us the promised smoothness of technology, without the hard sell".

“You sound almost evangelical”, I tell Imani. “How did you manage to invent something the whole world needed"?

“That’s easy”, she smiles. “People of the global north had fallen out of love with the Internet. But we in Ghana still held its joy and its possibility. In the Ga language, "mishee" means happiness, or even delight. I created Mishee to share our feeling of delight with the Internet, and I think she has".

Without thinking, I lean across the table towards Imani.

“I think I am a little bit in love with Mishee”.

Imani sits back, her hands demurely in her lap.

“You are not the first to feel this way”, she laughs, but kindly. “No one liked Big Brother. But Big Sister? We have a different kind of feeling for her".

This story shows us how the Internet might evolve. But the path we take is up to us.

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